As a student studying Computer Science in college, I often hear from friends working on various humanitarian projects, and I want to do something myself. But it seems that programmers don't have as many obvious avenues to help out as, say, doctors or teachers. What are some ways in which programmers can put their talent to use for people in poverty?
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locked by maple_shaft♦ Jul 4 '13 at 18:56
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Form a coalition, or just a group of programming friends, and make yourself available to small, but effective non-profit organizations. Offer to build them a website for free in your own time, etc. I'm currently building a site for a non-prof to allow people to sponsor educational materials in my free time. The work I'm doing can ultimately educate a village, I haven't left my office. This takes building business relationships with these organisations, so may take time build a rep, but once that's established, you wont fall short of opportunities.
CHARITY AND DONATION IS STUPIDITY.
Try to earn as much as possible. Spend ( instead of invest ) as much as possible. If all the people were doing only those two things economy will take care of poverty easily.
Help people to EARN money. It is always shameful to be on receiving end of charity and donation. If you spend it , somebody going to earn it. simple.
If you feel even more want-to-help-poor-people guy. Start A BIG business that can employ lots of people.
Always always let people earn their money instead of give it to them. Preserve their and your pride.
edit: Also never feel guilty about not doing anything for poor people. To me ( and I hope to most other people ) Doing best according to your ability ( whatever it is ) is far better public service than doing something inferior ( in terms of wasted efficiency and time ).
Sorry for not directly answering to use of "programming ability", but basic rules are same, whatever the profession is.
edit: please also read comment which have good discussion on subject. sorry again for drifting off the topic. ( but giving appropriate answer. )
It's more of a long-term strategy, but you could teach kids in poverty or in a developing country. If not as a full-time job, then teach programming for an after-school program at a boys/girls club in a poor neighborhood, or simply mentor at-risk kids. If you instill a love of learning, knowledge of programming and other scientific/technical fields, and inspire them to pursue an advanced education generally, you greatly increase the chances that they will end up with a life in which poverty (for themselves and their families) is very unlikely.
How many poor kids spend hours a day on the basketball court or football field hoping to strike it rich but in reality have a 1 in 10,000 chance of doing so and a 9,999/10,000 chance of getting nothing in return? If they spent the same amount of effort learning programming, math, science, etc., they would probably have a 95% chance of being solidly middle class for their whole life. Given decent smarts and hard work, a lot of them could do it, but it's just not an option in life that they see by example or know anyone to guide them toward. You could be the one.
Has no you yet posted a link to hackers for charity? They have a list of volunteer positions that need to be filled, many of which can be done over the web.
Despite the many answers, I feel like I can contribute to this subject - a group has been considering (In a different context) what "Good" means and some of what they have written about is charity.
First, harsh words (That have been posted in other answers as well)
Second, words on what you can do AS A PROGRAMMER that doesn't feel as cold.
The bolding underneath is mine, to draw attention to the important point.
Third, the thing I actually came here to post:
Obviously, you are not a billionaire (I guess. If you are, thank you for considering charity), but even so, that third quote is applicaple. You want to feel good about being a good person and you want to be a good person. You are allowed to do both - especially if you are more likely to help people if you feel good about helping. The important part, after all, is that people get help.
If you feel that helping people, personally, so you can feel that you are helping, is more likely to happen than you spending that same amount of time earning money to give away, then help personally. The important part is that people get help.
And if anybody, anywhere, ever accuses you of just doing it to feel good? Remember always that you have helped, and they have not.
Write software that helps people communicate freely and efficiently.
Efficient and unhindered communication is the key to a free world with no poverty and pollution? That's what causes dictatorships to fall, and that's why all dictatorships censor?
For example, you could contribute to the Tor Project, or build another helpful communication system like Twitter and Facebook. — You've read about how Twitter, Facebook and video streaming sites have been used in the Arab Spring?